RTA could get more state oversight

Updated 11/17/2010 5:41 PM

The Illinois Senate Wednesday voted to give the state's executive inspector general power and authority to monitor goings on at the Regional Transit Authority, Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority.

State Sen. Susan Garrett, a Lake Forest Democrat, was pushing for the state ethics oversight. And she said giving the responsibility to the state made more sense than creating new jobs for inspectors general at each individual transit agency.

"We already have this inspector general office in place," she said.

The Senate approved by a 38-12 vote.

Attention was drawn to the transit agencies after former Metra Executive Director Pagano in May stepped in front of a train and committed suicide. A later investigation found Pagano accepted unauthorized vacation payouts and forged signatures.

Opposition to Garrett's plan came mostly from downstate lawmakers, who argued giving the Executive Inspector the added responsibilities of overseeing transit agencies would cost more money the state doesn't have.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, echoed those cost concerns but supported the plan and praised Garrett for navigating "hornets' nest of mass transit."

Following the Senate's approval, the legislation now moves to the House for further debate. A vote there won't be possible until at least the week after Thanksgiving.